Red Wing Golf Course – Red Wing. Set. Go!
By E. Nolan
Have you ever been reluctant to play a golf course… for whatever reason? Maybe there was another course in the area you loved that kept pulling you away. Maybe you only play Top 100 or private golf courses? Whatever the reason… have you ever been reluctant to play a golf course, then played it, and kicked yourself hard for the number of times you missed out on playing it earlier?
Red Wing Golf Course was one of those courses for me, and not because I didn’t think it would be fun. For me, it was because I lived over an hour away, and the few times I was in the area I was there to play something else. The GM at Red Wing kept inviting me to play and I kept pushing it off, kept playing other places. Then – finally – after 6 years of delayed gratification, I played it, and had one word for myself at the conclusion of the round… Wow, that is a treat to play!
My wife laughed at me. My editor laughed at me. “I love that place,” he said. “A true hidden gem,” he said. “I can’t believe you’d never played there.” Moral of the story… do not be like me. Go play Red Wing Golf Course.
Red Wing Golf Course is 45 miles southeast of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, adjacent the Mississippi River. It’s an easy drive down from anywhere on the east or south side of the Twin Cities – 10 miles south of Treasure Island Resort and Casino, and 20 miles of beautiful Highway 61 north of Lake City. The town, and course, are in the Hiawatha Valley, surrounded by the Falconer Vineyards, Espen Island State Wildlife Area and an assortment of parks. The course itself is in town, a lot like the prestigious Donald Ross-designed Rochester Country Club. I’ve never turned down an invitation to play RCC. I never should have turned down an invitation to play Red Wing Golf Course.
Red Wing Golf Course isn’t long – at only 6,200 yards – but the Par 71 “plays long” enough. Paul Byron, the Director of Golf, says, “It’s one of the toughest courses I’ve ever played, but it’s also one of my favorites.” Loaded with elevated tees, you have to seriously think about those elevation changes in many of your shots. Paul agrees. “Some might consider it target golf, and I think that’s fair. Where you should land the ball merits as much thought as where you should aim.”
It’s a scenic course – the fairways surrounded by majestic oaks and tall pines. The sandstone bluffs provide a cool and contrasting backdrop, and there are several holes where you’d never know you’re in town. I’m not sure what I was expecting in terms of conditioning, but the fairways were super clean and smooth, the wavy greens were firm, fast, and fun and every aspect of the playing experience was pretty much perfect. A member told me this season the greens have never been better in the last 40 years! Superintendent Brett Doerhoefer has this place playing fast with greens which are second to none!
I’d like another shot (soon) at every hole, but a few of the standouts on the front included the 4th hole – a 3-par beauty over water – and the 7th hole – a 4-par that finishes on the opposite side of that very same pond. On the back, I was enamored by a trio of holes a member called the “Hallelujah Corner” – holes 13, 14 and 15 – a sequential 3, 4, 3 run that was so much fun.
Nineteen Bar+Grill is open (with properly distanced tables) and hammers home the tasty food with a great Friday Fish Fry including Haddock, Walleye, and jumbo shrimp. Chef Jaiden Thorhaug has really stepped up his game with high quality tavern type menu. By many accounts, the “best burgers in town.” The menu also has sandwiches, pizza and an assortment of favorite beers and cocktails. The patio and deck have some of the best views in Red Wing and usually playing great tunes providing a pretty cool vibe!
If you are looking for a venue near the Mississippi River, you should certainly check out their newly renovated Skyroom at Red Wing Golf Course. Spacious, with high ceilings, and a wraparound deck perfect for photos. The place has everything you need for your special day, including lodging. Step up your special date (or golf group visit) with a stay at the 4 bedrooms/ 4-bathroom Walsh House, perched over the 18th green – a totally unique Stay & Play experience.
Built in 1915 as a 9-hole course, it was expanded to 18 holes in the early 70’s. Red Wing Golf Course is a public golf course and was rated #4 Best Course in Minnesota by GolfAdvisor.com for 2020. You are in for a treat and special day when you make the drive to Red Wing Golf Course.